As part of our coverage leading up to the release of the new movie in November, we now focus the spotlight on the three lovely ladies vying for James Bond’s attention, as well as talking to long-time Bond producer Michael G. Wilson and casting director Debbie McWilliams about what goes into finding the perfect Bond Girl.
After hotly debated rumors about who would play Vesper Lynd, Bond’s assistant and early love interest, Eva Green finally got the role of what could arguably be considered the first Bond Girl ever, at least in terms of the books. Green first made waves in Bernardo Bertolucci’s racy drama The Dreamers and then appeared opposite Orlando Bloom in Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven.
On the opposite side of the spectrum is Italian actress Caterina Murino, who plays Solange, the bad guy’s wife. Murino is not so well known outside of her native Italy and in France where she’s appeared in a variety of small film roles. Last, but certainly not least, is Bosnian-born model-actress Ivana Milicevic, who’s is better known to Americans than the other two actresses, and who has had small parts in movies like Vanilla Sky and Running Scared.
Before we get to the women, though, we have a few words from those responsible for casting them:
ComingSoon.net: Why did it take so long to find an actress to play Vesper, before you finally ended up casting Eva?
Michael G. Wilson: We did look far and wide, and we tested many women. Eva was considered very early on, but she was committed to another project. It wasn’t until about four or five weeks ago that she got free from that project so we could actually give her the script, she could read it, come in and do a test for us and we could hire her.
CS: So how do you know when you’ve found just the right actor for a role like that?
Debbie McWilliams: You know immediately. It quite often takes that long to find someone that you really like for the part, which is why and initially, Eva wasn’t available although she was on the first list I ever made. It wasn’t until we searched all over the world and then spent a few weeks in America looking at people there, then we said, well let’s just go back and ask her again. For an actress, to be presented with a Bond script, it’s a very hard decision to make, because they’ll always forever be known as the girl who was in the Bond film, which perhaps may have slightly worried Eva to begin with. Once she read the script, she realized what a fabulous part it was. There’s never been a role as wonderful for a woman as this part, and she’ll be fantastic in it.
CS: Is that true, Eva? Why did you decide finally to be a Bond Girl?
Eva Green: I think this is one of the best scripts I’ve read for a long time, and it’s not like a clichÃ© movie or anything like that. It’s a very deep, profound movie with a lot of twists and turns. The love story moved me, and it’s not like an action movie. That’s why I’m doing this movie, and this character is a gift for an actor, so you can’t say no. You’d be quite a moron.
CS: How did you see Vesper, considering that she may be considered the first ever Bond Girl, at least in Ian Fleming’s books?
Green: The first thing is she’s the only woman that Bond falls in love with, and she shapes him and she’s going to have a great impact on his life. He’s going to become the Bond that we know, and that makes it interesting. In this movie, I think he maybe will be more human, you will see his flaws, and he’s a bit more rugged, and Daniel Craig looks a bit rugged.
CS: Catarina, what was your reaction when you learned that you were going to be a Bond Girl?
Catarina Murino: I screamed and jumped up and down. I was making a movie in Sardinia, and it was the day of a war, and I was a soldier with a baby, looking like a boy with a beard. It was so strange. Everybody was asking, “Are you sure the phone call was for you?”
CS: How have each of you been preparing to play your respective roles?
Eva: Actually, I got the part about two weeks ago, but I’m working on the script. I’m quite cerebral, so I’m imagining each scene and working on the character. I haven’t read the novel and I’m reading it at the moment. I’m a bad student, but I’m about to read it. In a way, I just imagined this movie as an old-fashioned movie in a very good way, because [Vesper] is quite sassy and sharp, and the relationship is kind of unusual and very funny, but you’ll just have to wait and see. I’m working at the moment.
Caterina: Everybody told me that I was preparing [to play a] Bond Girl. No way. I’m preparing a role, and that role is Solange. She’s not at all the classical Bond Girl that you know before. She’s somebody that’s very modern, but she’s married to a very bad man. The man is very bad with James Bond, and he’s very bad with me. She doesn’t have a very quiet life. I had to prepare my English and physically, I prepared because Solange loves to ride horses, so I rode a horse every day for a month. I had one of the best stuntmen in England for the horse.
CS: Eva, did you have to do any training for the part and do you have any action in the movie?
Eva: Action? No, I’m an office person. But I don’t have to fight anybody.
Wilson: But you have to do some scubadiving. She’s preparing that.
Eva: Oh, yeah, but I can’t revealâ€¦ yeahâ€¦
CS: Do either of you have any juicy sex scenes with Daniel Craig?
Eva: We will see if they’re very pornographic. (laughs) You don’t have to have sex in a sex scene, but it’s very sensual.
Caterina: Yes, I did already. I have a lovely, love scene. I love [Daniel]; he’s a great Bond.
CS: Were you familiar with the Bond movies or girls, and did you have one in particular who influenced your part?
Eva: They were a part of my childhood, for sure. I haven’t seen all of them, but I would say “Goldfinger” and Pussy Galore.
Caterina: My favorite might be the most famous, Ursula Andress.
CS: Debbie, there certainly seems to have been a lot of French Bond Girls before Eva. Sophie Marceau, Carole Bouquet and others. Why do you think that is?
McWilliams: There’s something in the genetic background of French girls. We did talk about Audrey Tautou, but of course, she’s in “The Da Vinci Code,” so we didn’t want the girl from that. We wanted someone we haven’t seen. I met CÃ©cile De France, too, and she was lovely, but her English wasn’t really up to scratch for us.
CS: That brings us to the most American of the new Bond girls. Ivana, can you tell us a bit about who you play in the movie?
Ivana Milicevic: Well, I’m bad. I’m Le Chiffre’s girlfriend and I guess henchman, you could say his bodyguard. Usually, bad girls aren’t blonde, but look at me, I look angelic, and yet I’m not. We kind of were into that. I’m just always with Le Chiffre, taking care of him. I figure he saved me from post-war Croatia or maybe I saved him, I don’t know.
McWilliams: In the story, it says “Valenka, Croatian beauty”, so here we have her. I just happened to find her in L.A.
CS: And how does it feel to be playing a Bond Girl?
Ivana: Do I count as one, ’cause I’m bad? Then I guess I am. It’s really exciting to most girls. My dad is really excited about it, and I’m not saying I’m not, but it hasn’t completely sunk in yet because it’s been go, go, goâ€¦
CS: What sort of stuff have you been filming here in the Bahamas?
Ivana: I’ve been doing boat stuff, electric blue bathing suit, underwater, you get it, but I do most of my scenes in Prague and a little in London.
CS: For many months, there were rumors about different actresses that might be co-starring opposite Daniel Craig. Were any of those rumors true?
McWiliams: The two who were very strongly considered were Angelina [Jolie] and Charlize Theron, but thereafter, anybody else who you’ve heard is not true.
CS: So there was a desire to bring in another superstar actress after having Halle Berry in “Die Another Day”?
McWilliams: The Halle Berry thing was quite odd in itself when it happened, because we hadn’t ever really gone that way before, but everybody thinks there was a precedent set by that. If you look back through the films, you’ll see that most of the girls we have chosen haven’t been well known at all, and they have subsequently become well known. So historically speaking, we normally have gone for someone who is not well known.
CS: Do you try to pick actresses who are more known for their dramatic roles?
McWilliams: Well, that’s how I always do it. I spent my life going to the theatre, so I choose a lot of people from the theatre and people from slightly more obscure stuff like Mads Mikkelsen, whose not known internationally, but he will be after this. He’s a fabulous actor in his early ’40s, and it’s hard to find people who are like that, who in their own territory are really well known and very substantial actors but who aren’t know to the world. For each bad guy, it’s really nice to find and introduce somebody that nobody’s ever seen before. That’s what we always try to do to keep it alive, original and different and not go for the obvious.
Casino Royale opens everywhere on November 17.
Source: Edward Douglas